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I have had several conversations lately with oral and maxillofacial surgeons, dentists, and office managers about the topic of social media usage to promote the practice. What has continually come up is the fear of HIPAA violations.Initially, I looked at this fear as a very good and respectable fear. I thought it meant that the practices and their staff were making sure to respect their patients and established laws.

That is not the case, though.

After digging in a little deeper, I realized that this fear comes from a lack of education and is causing dental offices to take one of two routes:

  1. They choose to not use social media at all.
  2. They post the most generic and news-style content possible.

First, because social media has proven to be very effective in many industries, it is only going to continue to become more valuable for the businesses that understand how to use it effectively.

Second, I would say that re-posting or sharing news-style content on social media that has no local or personal touch is the most surefire way to alienate any audience that you might be building on your social platforms.

If your office is posting generic content because you don’t know what else to post, that is one thing. But, if you are posting generic content because you are afraid of violating HIPAA, read the article, “Everything you need to know about HIPAA compliance when using social media as a healthcare practice.”

When you post on social media, you have to engage with your patients. Talk about them, post pictures of your staff, respond to your patient’s comments.

Is your Facebook page a “social” page or a “news” page?

You are not a news organization, so don’t think you are going to gain engagement from your patients by posting “news.” When you post on social media, you have to engage with your patients. Talk about them, post pictures of your staff, respond to your patient’s comments. You have to have fun, be relatable, and have a conversation.

I think the best way to illustrate this point is to give you real-life examples of two practices. Beacon Oral Surgery is in Washington and has over 1000 followers on their Facebook Page. Avondale Dental is in Idaho and has about 500 followers on their Facebook Page. I went through each of their pages and captured examples of their best and worst posts.

Examples of Good and Bad Facebook Posts

Look at the amount of engagement on each type of post.

There is a huge difference in engagement based on the type of content that is posted.

The numbers are staggering.

  1. 51 likes vs 2 likes
  2. 50 likes vs 1 like
  3. 100 likes & comments vs 2 likes & no comments

On the left-hand side, people were involved. The posts were engaging and relatable.

On the right-hand side, there were no people and the posts felt very automated and disingenuine.

Think You Can Just Wait Out The Storm?

Social Media is not going anywhere. It has already proven to be very effective in promoting businesses, just because you don’t know how to use it doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time to learn how.

Social Media is one of the best modern ways of encouraging word of mouth referrals and marketing. Not to mention, it is a fantastic way to grow your professional network.

Social Media Users by Platform as of May 2017

Facebook – 2 billion monthly active users – Source: The Motley Fool

Instagram – 700 million monthly active users – Source: The Motley Fool

Twitter – 328 million monthly active users – Source: CNN Tech

Snapchat – 166 million daily active users – Source: Tech Crunch

With the user base of nearly every social platform on the rise (except twitter), if your office is not utilizing social media today, don’t think you are going to be able to wait for the craze to pass. If the data have told us anything, social media is not going anywhere.

Conclusion

If your office is using social media but is not posting personal or local content because of fear of HIPAA violations (or for any reason), then you are wasting your time.

The practices that refuse to learn how to engage with patients on social platforms are the ones that are going to be eaten by those that do. Read more in our white paper, Eat or Be Eaten: Why The Next Generation of Oral Surgeons is Putting You Out of Business.